THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said it is readying a fuel discount program for farmers and fisherfolk to help them deal with rising input costs.

Authorized by the General Appropriations Act, the fuel subsidy program will have funding of P500 million, it said.

The subsidy will be triggered when the three-month average Dubai crude oil price hits or exceeds $80 per barrel, based on the Mean of Platts Singapore benchmark.

“The fuel discount will definitely help reduce the production and transport costs of major farm and fishery products, and subsequently tempering their respective market prices,” Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said in a statement.

Eligible for the program are those that own and operate agricultural or fishery machinery individually or through an organization, cooperative or association. For fisherfolk, fishing vessels must be registered with the Integrated Boat Registry System.

Target beneficiaries must also be registered under the DA’s Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources’ (BFAR) fisherfolk registry system.

“The DA regional field units and BFAR regional offices shall issue fuel vouchers to qualified beneficiaries to claim the fuel discount, and likewise are authorized to deduct 1.5% of said amount for administrative and other operational expenses,” the department added.

The program guidelines currently being formulated will include criteria on prioritization, the volume of discount vouchers to be provided to qualified beneficiaries, and the creation of a technical working group that will oversee the program implementation. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson